The Hypnotist

The Hypnotist Cover

Lars Kepler

Tumba, Sweden. A triple murder, all the same family. The killer is at large, and it looks as if the elder sister escaped the carnage. But she is missing and it seems only a matter of time until she too is murdered. Detective Inspector Joona Linna demands to investigate the grisly aftermath -- against the wishes of the national police. Where can Linna begin? The only surviving witness is the boy, Josef, whose mother, father and little sister were killed before his eyes, and he's in shutdown, comatose with shock. Obsessed and desperate, Linna turns to disgraced specialist Erik Maria Bark! The Hypnotist.

WHSmith Edition now contains Exclusive Bonus material including...

Author Q & A

Reading Group Questions

Behind The Hypnotist

Sample Chapter of Lars Kepler’s second Joona Linna thriller - The Nightmare


Judy: Wow. This is new-generation Scandinavian crime fiction at its hottest. Its microwave-hottest. When Stieg Larsson smashed his way into our consciousness with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, we could hardly have known that an army of Nordic novelists was at his heels. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo was one of the first through the breach. Lars Kepler is right behind him, and maybe drawing level in the charge.

The Hypnotist is a fabulously-crafted story from Sweden. A family is wiped out by a serial killer; all but an elder daughter, who is, ominously, missing. The police, stunned at the brutality of a triple murder, race to find and protect her.

There is a witness to the killings – teenage Josef, who saw his mother and baby sister killed in front of him at their home. His father has already been butchered in a nearby sports hall. At first the police think Josef has been murdered too, but crime scene investigators find faint signs of life in the stabbed boy. He is rushed to intensive care, where it quickly becomes apparent that if he survives, he may be the only person to help to find and protect his missing older sister.

But Josef is comatose. How can he possibly assist the investigation? Step forward disgraced specialist Eric Maria Bark, who has publicly disavowed clinical hypnotism after a tragedy linked to his practice years before. But now it seems he has no choice but to hypnotise Josef in order to find the boy’s endangered sister. Reluctantly, Bark agrees. It is a fateful decision.

Richard: The Hypnotist is crime fiction of the highest order. Intricately plotted; forensically designed; Lars Kepler has written a classic of the genre. The binary stars of his novel are policeman Detective Inspector Joona Linna, and psychiatrist Erik Maria Bark.

Both men are desperate. Linna has gone out on a professionally dangerous limb to solve the serial killing of Josef’s family; Bark is seeking redemption from a catastrophic case study that ended in attempted suicide and bitter recrimination. His whole scientific argument for extreme hypnotism has been horribly and publicly discredited. He is a broken man.

Now Linna insists that Bark use his controversial techniques to squeeze information from the horribly wounded Josef. Can the boy’s subconscious be teased into yielding crucial clues to his parents’ and sister’s slayings?

The pressures on both men are intense and Kepler really ratchets up the tension – the Swedish press get hold of the story and Linna and Bark find their reputations on the line. Meanwhile the horribly wounded Josef turns out to be a very dangerous patient.

Nothing it what it seems and The Hypnotist careers to its vicious, brutal conclusion. The only question is: whose theory on who the killer is and what their motives are, is correct? The cynical, weary, but experienced, detective’s? Or the drug-dependant, disgraced but instinctive hypnotist’s?

Lars Kepler is in fact a nom de plume for a literary couple who live and write in Sweden. I’m sure they’re a lovely couple but I’m glad they’re not my neighbours.

Reviews & Comments

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  • What a fantastic read! I have 2 young children, 2 jobs and don't get to read as often as I'd like. However, I read this in a week (& it's quite a big book)! The story kept me guessing until the end and although pretty gruesome in bits, a really great book that's easy to get straight into. Can't wait for the next book.


  • I started this book enthusiastically as it was so engaging right from the beginning, The author has a really enticing writing style that just got me hooked, unfortunately the more I read the more disappointed I became. I kept expecting at any moment it would surprise me with some inventive plot twist and that the unbelievable 'multiple personalities' of the main character could somehow be explained and understood. However what actually happened was rather predictable and at times far fetched. The two sub plots really didn't mesh at all well, it could have and probably should have been two separate books. Then perhaps more attention could be given to the characters so we could understand and engage with them better. A real shame!

    sam rossiter

  • I agree! This book was so gripping I couldn't put it down; there are so many twists and turns it was an easy page turner! I also liked the fact the chapters were short, so it was easy to give in to reading just one more!


  • This is the fourth of the book club books that I've read and my favourite so far. I had to keep stopping as it was so scary, but then couldn't resist going back to find out more. Brilliant.


  • loved this book read so quick could not put down scary in parts but very enjoyable

    emma kinsey

  • You just wait the next book is even better! Having read them all, 3 at the moment in Swedish and then the English version which is very well translated. The second book is a masterpiece. The first is only a taster. But the title of the second book does not do it justice.

    Maria Floyd

  • I've just finished this book and absolutely loved it. I would definitely recommend it. It is a bit frightening at times, and a rather gruesome tail, but a real psychological thriller. I've read a lot of very good books recently through this website but this is my favourite. Try it!!


  • Oh this was my type of book, love a good serial killer and this didn't disappoint, from the first chapter I was hooked and kept me guessing until the very end, loved it


  • Loved it but then I really enjoy a good murder mystery. The Swedish authors really seem to have this off pat.

    Su Trinder

  • I really enjoyed this, and would say a must read. An excellent thriller.

    Su Trinder

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